This week, Rural and Remote Health Minister Greg Ottenbreit joined staff at the Saskatchewan Air Ambulance hangar to celebrate 70 years of operation and recognize the organization for decades of service to the people of our province.
Launched as a lifeline in a rural province that boasted few major highways at the time of World War II, the Saskatchewan Air Ambulance service continues to serve a vital role in transporting hundreds of critically ill and injured patients each year to the hospital care they need.
“Our government is committed to ensuring that Saskatchewan people have timely access to the health services they need, no matter where they live,” Ottenbreit said. “We have been well served over the past seven decades by the dedicated men and women of Saskatchewan Air Ambulance.”
What began in February 1946 with a single plane flying to communities that often didn’t have landing strips has expanded to a 24 hour operation with three fixed-wing airplanes and pilots, nurses and advanced care paramedics supported by a provincial air-medical coordination centre, support teams and maintenance crews.
“Our entire team is committed to meeting the need for safe, advanced care in transport,” Saskatchewan Air Ambulance Flight Paramedic Pat Morris said. “From the aircraft maintenance engineers who maintain our fleet, to the pilots who ensure the safety of our patients and crew, to the medical crews that work together as a true team, we are proud to serve the citizens of Saskatchewan. Air Ambulance is the silent gem of the province.”
The service operates out of a base at the Saskatoon airport, dispatching crews to locations across the province and transporting patients to and from other provinces for care not available in Saskatchewan.
“Air Ambulance is a unique service in this province, both in what they provide and how the service is offered to the people of Saskatchewan,” Saskatoon Regional Health Authority Chair Mike Stensrud said. “It is an example of an effective partnership between multiple organizations, including Saskatoon Health Region and St. Paul’s Hospital. From trauma patients in northern communities needing stabilization and monitoring en route to acutely-ill patients requiring medical services out of the province, Air Ambulance does it all.”
The service is a key part of a provincial network of emergency medical services from fixed-wing and helicopter air crews to ground ambulances and medical first responders, ready to respond to emergencies and medical transportation requests anywhere in Saskatchewan.